Walking into the first ever BHS Dance Team auditions, Sophomore Ophelia Keefe is ecstatic, if a bit nervous. She has been dancing outside of school for five years, focusing mainly on hip-hop and jazz funk fusion. While Ophelia loves her after school classes, she is excited by the opportunity to be able to dance with and perform in front of her peers from the high school. She is especially interested in the dance team, because it was started and is run solely by two of her friends and fellow sophomores, Zanevia Wilcox and Medine Nifasha.
Wilcox and Nifasha are experienced hip-hop dancers, who have shared a passion for dance from a young age. Both girls are avid performers within the community, rocking a mix of freestyle and self-choreographed dances on stages across Vermont. Nifasha runs a popular YouTube channel dedicated to her dancing, and Wilcox is currently working on videos with photographers and videographers who have expressed interest in her talent. Both girls have had experience in teaching dance, with Wilcox instructing both youth and adult class at the Urban Dance Complex.
Dance has always been a vital part of their lives. When the two students made the jump from middle school to high school they were devastated to learn that there was no dance or cheerleading opportunities offered at BHS. They tried to start a team their freshman year, but according to Wilcox they “didn’t really have any solid plans, money, or kids who interested that could jumpstart the team.”
That roadblock did not stop the determined dancers, who set out to try again at the start of this school year. Wilcox called word of mouth their strongest weapon when launching the team.,
“I let other dancers I knew know about what I envisioned it would be like, and it just got big,” Wilcox said.
However, she does admits that starting their own club wasn’t an easy feat.
“This year I was on the verge of kinda giving up but [Nifasha] and Mr. Cope,our supervisor/director, kinda kept the idea alive and carried me around with it so I wouldn’t forget about how cool and amazing this dance team is going to be.”
Although the dance team is brand new to BHS, it is already a huge hit, and dozens of interested students turned out to tryout for the team. “The audition process was very difficult because we could only accept 15 [dancers] max and about 30-40 people showed up. This sucked because there were a lot of amazing dancers who were also were super dedicated that we could not accept,” Wilcox said.
In the end, Wilcox and Nifasha selected five dancers that met their criteria as both dancers and as assets to the team. Despite the difficulty of cutting down dancers, they are extremely excited for the future of the team. They are hoping to gain the funding and resources to start performing at sports events and pep rallies as soon as possible, and potentially move onto state competitions. Most of all, Wilcox and Nifasha are excited to get to know the team and start dancing. The first practice was held on Wednesday, Sept. 38, during choice time, where the duo ran the show and taught the team their first routine.
They are looking forward to mixing things up this year.
“This dance team is strictly hip hop but we will be floating around in the […]genre touching on styles of dance that originated from hip hop. All choreography will be done by [Nifasha] and I but we will be taking input from people who are on the team,” Wilcox said. “The team is student driven so we have a supervisor but what we actually do with the team is all Medine and I.”
While the club leaders are cementing their vision for the team, the newly selected members are setting goals for themselves. Ophelia Keefe, upon making the team, is “pumped to gain more dance experience, and learn how to work with a big group of dancers.” She is excited to get to know the other dancers, and foster friendships with her teammates through their shared passion for hip hop.